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Rouhani And Hardliner Watchdog Spar Over Mass Disqualification Of Candidates

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani chairs a cabinet meeting in Tehran on January 15, 2020

The Spokesman of Iran's election watchdog on Wednesday blasted President Hassan Rouhani for criticizing its mass disqualification of would-be candidates for the February 2020 parliament elections.

Iran's Guardian Council which must approve the all candidates running for parliament, has rejected thousands of applicants, including 90 members of the current parliament.

"Brawling to [force the Council to] qualify the unqualified [candidates] is nothing new. It is lamentable that the President has become a pioneer in this unpatriotic project," Abassali Kadkhodai, Spokesman of the Guardian Council Spokesman of the Guardian Council wrote in his tweet.

In a cabinet meeting earlier on Wednesday Rouhani slammed the Council for mass disqualification of thousands of would-be candidates from running in the upcoming elections.

Rouhani said people want "diversity" and accused the Guardian Council of trying to ensure total control by of one faction only; the hardliners who also dominate the election and Constitution watchdog bodies.

On January 13 the Guardian Council Spokesman announced that it has disqualified 90 sitting lawmakers from running in the elections for "financial and moral corruption" and antagonism against the regime.

The Council has disqualified two outspoken lawmakers, Ali Motahari and Mahmoud. Several other prominent lawmakers including the incumbent speaker Ali Larijani who has lost much of his influence are not running. Reformists say only 30 percent of their 16,000 candidates nationwide have been approved by the Council to run in the elections.